April 18, 2012

How to Be Less Creative

Creativity is mostly useless. Here is a short list of the times in a typical day when creativity is helpful:
  • Keeping from being bored while doing chores
  • Making up stories to tell my boys
  • Blogging
  • Solving a particularly difficult problem at work
Altogether, that accounts for about 3 hours out of each day. Subtracting the time spent sleeping, that leaves 15 hours per day when I do not need to be creative.

During those hours, creativity is an impediment to the things I need to get done. I need my thinking to be logical and organized. I do not need to be distracted by ideas.

Steps for Becoming Less Creative

There are thousands of books and articles about how to be creative. But how do I switch it off? What if I really just need to be less creative? 

The May Real Simple has an article titled "Can You Get More Creative?" It includes a list, "7 Habits of Highly Creative People." I'm going to turn the list around backwards and see if it contains any useful advice for blunting the creative impulse.

  1. Play. Work.
  2. Borrow ideas. Dismiss any ideas that aren't your own.
  3. Sleep on it. Complete all work by the end of each day.
  4. Collect every seed of an idea. Don't study, observe, or learn.
  5. Embrace constraints. Rail against constraints.
  6. Commune with nature. Avoid nature.
  7. Compete. Avoid competition.
Number 4 is the tough one: that's what I mean by needing to turn off my brain. How can I not remember things I see and read? How can I stop putting together all the puzzle pieces rattling around in my head? It happens automatically, it may just be how the human brain is wired.

Perhaps being less creative just takes practice.

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